Lifestyle & Belief

Tiger-Lion hybrids, called "ligers," left to breastfeed from a dog


Liger cubs, bred from a tiger and lion, breastfeed from a dog in Shandong, China in this frame grab from 9 News NBC.

This confusing jumble of fur, snouts and teats is even stranger that it looks.

Two newborn ligers, the spawn of a male lion and a female tiger, are nursing on dog milk. Their tiger mom has ditched her cubs for reasons officials at the XiXiakou Wildlife Zoo in eastern China can't quite explain.

These liger cubs are the latest addition to the tiny number of ligers in existence. Accounts vary, but there are roughly 20 to 30 ligers out there -- each bred with human assistance. Ligers aren't believed to exist in the wild as tigers and lions are more likely to claw each other to a pulp than mate.

According to National Geographic, ligers are proof that "two species that would never meet up in the wild can mate." Scientists also theorize that "chumans" or "humanzees" are possible. One Soviet researcher devoted much of his career to creating one by inseminating female chimps with human sperm.

The "chuman," however, would probably turn out less attractive -- and less willing to nurse from a bug-eyed dog -- than this pair of ligers.